Hard Times in the City: Testifying

Clyde "Kingfish" Smith, Street Vendor

Photo: caption follows

Surrogate image: Street vendor, Harlem, New York City, 1943. Gordon Parks. Photograph, 1943.
Clyde "Kingfish" Smith
Street Vendor
Basement of B. Shapiro, 300 E. 101 Street, New York City
November 29, 1939
Marion Charles Hatch

Interview Excerpt: "Why did you start singing while you work?"

Listen to Clyde's response

"When I started peddling that was in 1932, that's when I started singing...'Heighho, fish man, bring down you dishpan,' that's what started it. 'Fish ain't but five cent a pound....' It was hard times then, the Depression, and people can hardly believe fish is five cents a pound, so they started buying. There was quite a few peddlers and somebody had to have something extra to attract the attention. So when I came around, I started making a rhyme, it was a hit right away.

"...On the street whatever comes to mind I say it, if I think it will be good. The main idea is when I got something I want to put over I just find something to rhyme with it. And the main requirement for that is mood. You gotta be in the mood. You got to put yourself in it. You've got to feel it. It's got to be more or less an expression, than a routine. Of course, sometimes a drink of King Kong liquor helps."

Transcript #21051622

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Man at Eddie's Bar | Man at Colonial Park | Bernice, Rent Party Hostess | Clyde "Kingfish" Smith, Street Worker

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All in a Day's Work: Industrial Lore | Rank and File | Hard Times in the City: Testifying | Making Do: Women and Work

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